tv The Civil War CSPAN December 27, 2014 6:00pm-7:13pm EST
infantry division, reflecting on their experience. sunday at 4:00 p.m. eastern time, here on c-span 3's american history t.v. >> next, on the civil war, a panel of historians and authors talks about factors that impacted lincoln' election campaign in 1864. they explore lincoln's expansion of presidential war powers and his relationship with both democratic and republican newspapers. they also debate whether the gettysburg address was the beginning of lincoln's reelection campaign and the impact of the soldiers' vote. this hour-long event was part of the lincoln forum's annual symposium in gettysburg, pennsylvania. >> good morning. i welcome everybody. i am honored to be here and hosting this panel or moderating this panel on the election of 1864. we have a terrific group of
scholars here. i'm going to introduce them very briefly, because they're very well-known to you, as members of the forum. and also well-known to the c-span audience. then we'll get right into some questions that i'll pose to the panelists and then we'll turn it open to the floor and have a round of q&a from all of you as well. let me just say this at the outset. i did a quick study of these figures. frank williams, harold holzer, jonathan white and thomas horrocks here. by my count, and you know, there's some margin of error here in my calculation. but you're looking at the equivalent of about 75 books. [laughter] authored edited coedited. now, i know that number is skewed somewhat. [laughter] um... let's just say, i mean, i have contributed two books. white and horrocks have done
better than that. ha! but somewhere north of 60 accounts for the holzer-williams combination. these two, apparently they have day jobs as well. let me just say a few words. frank williams is well-known to everybody, the retired chief justice of the supreme court of rhode island. the founder of the forum he has written and edited several books about lincoln, in particular his expertise is on lincoln as a lawyer and a politician. and he has done a remarkable job over the course of his career in framing the lincoln debate. in particular, developing ideas about the lincoln literature and he's a true book lover. glad to have him. harold holzer is the senior vice president for public affairs at the metropolitan museum of art in new york. he's also chairman of the abraham lincoln bicentennial
foundation. his latest book you've already heard about, lincoln and the power of the press. that has a particular relevance to the election of 1864, we'll drill down on that as well today. next to harold is jonathan white. johnjon is professor of american studies at christopher newport university. he's written a number of books and articles about abraham lincoln. but his latest in particular is a remarkable contribution to the election of 1864. the title is "emancipation, the union army and the reelection of abraham lincoln." it's a revisionist study. i'm really interested in asking him about this book, because it pretty much challenges everything i've been teaching about this election. [laughter] for the last 10, 15 years or so. so i need him to explain it to me, so i can help the 19-year-olds of america get through it. finally, at the end of the panel here we have thomas horrocks one of the great librarians in
america, former director of the library. he's worked at harvard in the library system as well. and he's written an important book called "lincoln's campaign biographies." it's a really fascinating study about one of the core elements of 19th century campaigns, which is the printed campaign biography. welcome to everybody. let me say one thing at the outset. the election of 1864 is important. i'm not sure people realize how important. i have to tell you just as a confession ever since i saw spielberg's lincoln, i've been disgruntled, because as powerful as that movie was and as interesting as the story of the passage of the 13th amendment is, i always felt like they missed this opportunity, because i think all those issues, particularly the trade-off between emancipation and union actually mattered more during the election of 1864.
and i want to talk about this with these panelists. i think that movie would have been great, august of '64 in the lincoln white house. the choices lincoln made were defining for him, his presidency and the country. when eventually all worked out, and nobody thought it would, he said we cannot have free government without elections. it's one of the most stirring statements, in affirmation of democracy. we're not hire here to celebrate the election of 1864. this panel is designed to study it. the first question, and i thought people here would appreciate it, because everybody here in this room are serious students. i wanted to ask about books that have been written about the election of 1864 to get us started. what book do you recommend? so frank, i want to put that to you first. i don't want you to hurt anybody's feelings. and i don't want you to think about the panelists.
but -- [laughter] -- if there is a book by somebody off the panel that you would recommend for this election, you know, which one or two books would it be? >> well, there are really two classics. the late david long's "jewel of liberty." it's out of print but i think you can still get a copy at a used bookstore. and john law's "reelected lincoln, the battle for the 1864 presidency." there's a new one out "decided on the battlefield, grant, sherman, lincoln and the election of 1864" by david allen johnson. so those are the ones that i would look to. >> okay. good. i like david long's book as well. it's a powerful study. john's book is totally readable. but i was curious to see if you would agree with this. i know i'm a little partisan. i with u.s. a student of david donald's -- i was a student of david donalds, but i think if
you're going to look at a bigraphical account of lincoln as a candidate, the account he offers is as good as any. >> it is. it's compelling. and he picks his subjects as to what depth he's going to cover, as you know, matt, because you helped as one of his students. and this is a particularly strong section. >> okay. and is there any other biographer that you would recommend for politics and the election of 1864 in particular? >> i liked ron white's book too that came out in '09. >> ron white is especially good in the way he crafts his public rhetoric. >> let me just make a spielberg comment, if i may. >> fair enough. >> the original script of spielberg's lincoln goes from the gettysburg address to the assassination. i've only seen snippets of it, but it actually goes exactly
into these issues. and it's up to spielberg if he ever wants to circle around and release it for a miniseries or let someone else do it. butdreamworks owns the script. unlike a screenplay, which can be published and has been published, this longer version is forever in the vaults, which is rather sad, because it did get into this very issue. and i agree with you 100% that it's an equally dramatic story. >> so, first of all, we can hope for a sequel to the lincoln movie. but is there a book that you would recommend that frank didn't mention yet? >> no. i think those are the books and i agree that donald's biography covers it well. all the biographies deal with it as the most important election in american history.
it's a rather superlative description but i think it fits. we've heard in every election in the last 20 years that it was also the most important election in american history. and the elections of today are supposed to be so earth-shattering, through which we all manage to survive and move on to the next election are always compared to 1864. so i don't know if it needs a new study. it would be interesting if we all think it should be revived. the problem with our late friend, david long, and his book is that it was published by a small publisher. and my vote is that it be picked up by some current publisher like siu press, if you're listening, and redone in a posthumous edition. >> i think it actually was reissued in paperback. the one thing i would add, part of the problem with the election of 1864, is the outcome seems so
obvious. 55% of the popular vote, a huge electoral college majority, and so there just haven't been a lot of books done on the election of 1864, because i think scholars look at the campaign and the outcome and they just don't think there's something new to say. >> you know, i would -- let me put a plug-in for somebody who is on this panel. if you had asked me, let's say six months ago, i would have agreed with what both frank and harold said about the two best books. and i would certainly think long is definitely one. john wall's is also good. it's a good read. but i would replace wall. i would now say that the two best books for me, for the '64 election, would be david long's and my friend here, john white's, which i think -- i don't agree with everything that john says if in there, but i think it's a very important book, that if you want to understand the '64 election particularly the
soldiers' vote, which everyone says who has written about the '64 election, says it's a critical element of that. you need to deal with john's book. so... >> all right. let me ask john. >> put the check in the mail. >> it's on its way. >> let me ask john to just summarize again, for this group but also for the wider audience, what you think you've done new in your book that addresses something about the 1864 election that other scholars have missed. >> sure. so my book makes really two arguments. the one has to do with lincoln and emancipation and how the lincoln administration sought to teach the union soldiers that they needed to fight in a war for emaps paition -- emancipation. so i have two chapters in the book that look at that period from basically january through march '63. what i argue is that the lincoln administration very diligently worked to teach the soldiers that they needed to fight for emancipation. and it did so by court-martialing soldiers or
summarily dismissing soldiers and officers who spoke out against emancipation. and that this had a really effective -- it was a really effective approach in terms of teaching the union army that they needed to support lincoln's war policies. then what i do is transition to the election of 1864. now, 7 #% -- 78% of the soldiers voted for lincoln. most scholars have said it's very obvious that the soldiers supported lincoln, and since lincoln was running on a platform that pledged the 13th amendment, that they supported emancipation as well. what i've tried to do is dig a little bit deeper than just that basic statistic and look at what the election meant to soldiers. and i found a whole lot of things that scholars have never really looked at before. i found an incredible amount of intimidation and fraud in terms of how democrats in the army were dealt with during the campaign with numbers of democrats being court-martialed for speaking out against
emancipation or speaking out against lincoln's election. i found dozens of officers dismissed from the army in 1864 because stanton saw them as democrats and wanted to get rid of them. it caused other officers to realize, maybe i should keep my mouth shut about these political issues rather than speak out in favor of mcclellan. one thing i looked out was voter turnout in the election. in particular, i looked at what we might today call the off-year elections. the election calendar in the 19th century was very different from the way it is today. most of our state and local and federal elections are all held on the same day. it didn't work that day in the 19th century. you had elections in september october, november. and so what i did was i looked at how soldiers voted and how civilians voted in the september, october and november elections and then compared it with how soldiers voted and how civilians voted in the
presidential election. what i found was the home vote for both republicans and democrats increased by precisely between 8% and 9%, so there was a very small uptick in the number of voters when they were voting for state-level and congressional candidates for both parties. the republican soldier vote increased by 37%. the democrat soldier vote increased by 97%. i think this shows you that the soldiers were not as tied to the political parties as most scholars have assumed that they were. but they were willing to vote for the candidate that they believed would save the union. so ultimately, i think these soldiers are voting for preservation of the union rather primarily than emancipation. and you can see that in the vast numbers who turn out for lincoln and who also, in smaller numbers, turn out for mcclellan rather than the lower-level people on those tickets, on the republican and democratic tickets.
>> so you can see, easily, when john summarizes it, what is controversial and provocative about that. the question is, when lincoln says we cannot have free government without elections is that more rhetoric than reality if there's suppression and corruption in the election process. we have to challenge lincoln's statement. harold you've also written a master piece of a book too about lincoln and the press. do your findings in the 1864 election correlate with what john is finding in the war department? did the press have a free run in this campaign? >> it's a complicated question. on the one hand, lincoln admirably loosens or allows the loosening of some of the very tight press suppression that springs up around the country not just in the border states where you would expect it to be more intense. maryland and kentucky and
missouri. it's everywhere. it's in indiana, in illinois, in new york. it's in rhode island. you weren't there to stop it. massachusetts, maine. i found it extraordinary that these outbursts never occurred in the midst of major election campaigns. either in the off-year elections of 1862 with a run-up to the state elections and the congressional elections that montgomery blair famously warned lincoln at the cabinet meeting of july 1862 the republican party would lose as most presidents lose some seats in off-year elections, the party in power, if the emancipation proclamation was issued that was issued in september. certainly lost house seats govern seats, legislatures. but there wasn't major suppression of the press.
it resumed in the name of protecting troop movements, protecting aid and comfort to the enemy, other excuses and code words, code phrases. but, again beginning in congregation season, which, for the republicans, is june 1864. for the democrats quite stupidly, by the way -- talk about a tactical mistake -- they waited until august. he said lincoln is ahead of me and republicans are ahead of me in organizing. so there is, again a relaxation in '64. so i take lincoln at his word. i think he proves his pointer assume -- proves his point assuming he is a master puppeteer, even though his hand is not on it. look, he signs an order suppressing the new york world and new york journal of commerce earlier, before he's renominated in 1864. the only time he ever authorized
personally with his signature the closing of a newspaper for in this case, a peculiar and nonthreatening reason, the publication of a forged presidential proclamation that sent lincoln into a tizzy, i think, because he is actually writing such a proclamation in the white house and thought it was leaked. okay. the new york world, one of the most virulent papers in the country, then resumes its attacks on lincoln, after the editor is liberated from the confines of general dick's office and resumes publication. is world is brutal accusing lincoln of race mixing, putting out cartoons that show that the republican party is having mixed-race dances. it's considered to be extremely shocking in 1864. brutal, brutal campaign all the way through. lincoln and is the administration do nothing to
stop that kind of free expression. horace greeley, who has done everything he can to thwart lincoln's nomination, and after the nomination, to thwart his reelection for some bizarre reason, continuing to think there could be an alternative republican choice, when he finally comes back to the reservation, politically, and realizes that lincoln is and will remain the republican choice, he engages the stanton to create a special army office to make sure that only republican newspapers go to the army of the potomac. so in that soldiers' vote area, i concur with john. there is certainly an effort to keep the new york world, even the new york herald, the chicago times, away from the troops. so i mean, how do you get election? you can either chat about it or you can read the papers which the papers are stirring up the civilian vote. well democratic soldiers in the
army of the potomac certainly are not getting the democratic papers. so it's a mixed bag. >> also, harold, they're not getting a lot of the democratic pamphlets the also circulating. >> and this is a good point to make that you cannot, you cannot test the suppression such as it was, that harold described, by today's standards with the first amendment, because even though civil liberties were always an issue in our democracy especially during the civil war it was not as sacrosanct then as it has been since world war i when the growth for a first amendment rights has already improved. but even having said that, harold was very judicious in his great book by saying that lincoln was discrete. and when things settled down, he was easy on the reins. he let them go. and as he just described, his administration was not going to be so draconian.
>> also, the republican editors supported the shutdown of democratic papers. >> the competition is being shut down. it's fun. >> harold and john raised a bunch of issues. but one of the common elements there in both of their answers was there's this cloud of uncertainty over exactly what lincoln authorizes himself and what people are doing on his behalf. in the modern error, it's what we call plausible -- it's a lot of subjective interpretation. frank, i wanted to follow up with you, because at the end of the day john's book and harold's book are very nuanced. but the takeaway that i think some people might have is that regardless of what our present-day standards are lincoln wasn't as committed to constitution liberties as people would have expected. i want to know if you think that conclusion is a mistake, based on what you've been reading and
what they've been producing from their study of the evidence. >> it's a very general comment, but i think it goes back to his special message to congress on july 4 1861. it's a people's contest. and during a war a rebellion the chief magistrate could do certain things in wartime that he could not do in peace time. that was his policy. remember presidential powers are ill-defined or non-defined in article two of our constitution, including the role of commander in chief. and lincoln did a great deal in defining what he believed to be the war powers, which term is not even mentioned in our constitution. so -- but generally i agree. i agree, matt, that he did step way beyond what someone could do today and was a problem as
harold points out in his good book. >> i think you have hit on a good term that i wish i thought of when i was writing the book, which is that -- >> you could have asked me. [laughter] >> hello frank. what term should i use that i'm not using? it is true that we assume the culture held some of these freedoms as sacrosanct as we do today. and i agree with you that it wasn't quite the case. and in a rebellion obviously it's a little bit different. but i think if you look at the coining letter, for example, this open letter that lincoln writes to an albany new york politician, make sure it's published nationwide and in pamphlets -- this is in june of '63. he says, press -- he means newspaper men are crudded included among the spies and traitors that he named, if they cross that line.
it's true his administration, his post office department his military his state department, his war department are the agencies that are deciding where that shifting line is. but i don't think there's any doubt that he did think that, when they crossed the line, they should be axed. >> old on. just to follow up on that, you pointed out that greeley supported suppression of the press in some ways. >> yes. >> but henry raymond, another sort of hero in harold's book he is the chairman of lincoln's reelection company. >> the chairman of the r.n.c. >> the media back then, you know, wasn't fair and balanced like it is today, right? [laughter] they're not treating civil liberties as sacrosanct either. >> well, there is a moment after the shutdown of the chicago times in '63 when greeley organizes an ad hoc committee in new york to draft a statement of
values on freedom of the press and where you cross the line. henry raymond refused to attend this meeting, because he hated greeley. they did issue a manifesto. they sent it to lincoln. lincoln took it and, you know, never answered. and it said, we should respect freedom of the press. the press is entitled to express its opinion. but when it gives aid and comfort to the enemy it's subject to the laws of war. so they sort of -- this opportunity, it was a funny bunch of papers. the jewish messenger the catholic weekly, the only ones who dared participate in this little convention. basically they reiterated what lincoln said was the -- what the administration implied was the policy. >> if i can just add one thing about the first. democrats did make the -- about the first amendment. democrats did make the argument. the famous ohio copper head who was arrested and then tried before a military tribunal for
disloyal speech, he was arrested under general orders, which essentially said you can't speak against the government's war policy. when he went out he said i don't believe in gem general orders number 38, i believe in general orders number 1, meaning the first amendment. democrats were making an argument that really does foreshadow the interpretation of the first amendment that will come about 70, 80 years later. but i also think that if the shoe was on the other foot, they might not have made the argument. the evidence for that -- there's a wonderful book by a man who teaches at a school in connecticut. he has a book on andrew jackson and martial law. he starts by looking at jackson's declaration of marshal law. you may know jackson was fined $1,000 for taking away the rights of a newspaperman during the battle of new orleans. and he paid the fine. and in the 1830's and 1840's,
jackson went out and started lobbying legislatures to get that fine reimbursed. [laughter] he ended up getting not only the fine back but plus interest. so jackson did okay. now, who supported that? >> which lincoln mentioned. he mentioned the whole case. >> in the corning later. he said jackson got his money back. >> right. now, who supported jackson getting his money back? the democrats. the wigs. he shows how the people to supported jackson in the 1840's, opposed lincoln in the 1860's. and the people who opposed jackson supported lincoln in the 1860's. so they're making principled arguments in a sense, but ah, how principled they are, i can't speak. >> the old expression, in washington, is where you stand depends on where you sit. that seems to be illustrated by that point. i want to switch gears. we were talking a lot about newspapers, which we should. in 19th century politics,
newspapers were everything. and they were very partisan. but tom, your book was about campaign biographies. i don't think people appreciate how important they were. >> i'm reading. going by the book. [laughter] >> i want to ask you two quick questions about that. first of all, why were they so important back then? second of all, i think your book does a good job of explaining how lincoln's campaign biography and his reelection ones were different. what does that show about his evolution as a candidate? >> well, campaign biographies were important in a sense that -- you know, there were many genres of print in the 19th century. if you were interested in a particular candidate, if you encountered a pamphlet or a cartoon, you may know various aspects about a particular candidate. but you may not know the larger context. and the meaning, the full meaning of it. if you're interested in getting
information on a candidate eats's life, their character, family. you can find that all in one place, in a campaign biography. that's, i think, the importance of that genre. the difference between the '60 company biographies for lincoln and the 1864 campaign biographies is that in 1860 the task of the biographer was to introduce a relatively unknown illinois country lawyer who, to the surprise of every everyone, wins the republican nomination. so what they need to do is introduce this candidate. and they are aided by a very captivating image, which emerges out of the decatur republican state convention in illinois of this rail-splitter, which is an image which they attach a
biography to it. it captivates and motivates the republican party. but it also captivates the commercial publishing industries. they actually see, this is something that's going to sell. and after all, their purpose is not to elect a certain candidate. their purpose is to make money off of the voters' interest in a particular election. and i think that had a lot to do with lincoln's election in 1860. there were 16 campaign biographies of lincoln in 1860 compared to 18 of his three opponents combined. so it really took off as a story, a biography. in 1864, the task of the biographers was different. lincoln needed no introduction.
he was revered and reviolated. re-- revered and reviled. but everybody knew him. so the main task of the campaign biographers in '64 was to defend the administration. that doesn't mean that the rail-splitter image was dismenseddis penceed with. by itself, it was inadequate. but many of the biographers actually used that maimg image and that character of this rugged individual rail-splitter from the west, used it as a platform or a foundation on which to build a new image, which was father abraham the image that -- to understand lincoln as president, you need to understand his character, and you need to understand what went into making that character. and that was his biographer. that's where he came from.
that emerged from all the struggles he overcame on the frontier, honesty, integrity perseverance, courage. someone we can rely on. and that explained and informed his success as president. it also was the argument on why we need to reelect him, so he can finish his job. so that was the difference. >> what kind of circulation did these ebiographies -- did these biographies have? >> that is the thing i bring out in my book, is that trying to grapple with just how influential these were. and we really don't have circulation figures on any of these, though accounts from the time indicate that there were several of these biographies particularly in 1960, that sold very well. but we really don't know the sales figure. >> if i can just interject one
thing. >> sure. >> when i was looking in the papers of henry raymond, the publisher of the new york times who wrote -- really assembled the book of lincoln's speeches, i found some fascinating series of letters between the white house and raymond. the publisher wants their mailing lists, essentially. i want to be able to get this out. they're not selling enough copies. and i don't think mr. durby was very happy about the sales figures. but in fact, there's one part where they say, could you send me the gettysburg address? because we don't have that speech. maybe we should put that in there. itthis is 1864. tells you thing about the gettysburg address to develop its reputation. when lincoln dies, raymond repurposes his campaign biography and adds some stuff and adds the death and adds the first mention of the artist
carpenter's reminisces of abraham lincoln and it becomes a huge best-seller, at least they say it's a best-seller. >> barack was also a campaign biographer and did the same thing. but there are some of the campaign biographies that you continually see on the market, which indicates to me that there must have been a large print run. >> i have to ask. how many of these do you own? [laughter] >> oh, he acts shy. >> i don't know. i don't know. i'd have to check. we've got to get together tom and check it out. but, you know, we talk about this effort of campaign biographies, partisan newspapers suppression of soldier vote, whether it's 78% or not. this is -- and jonathan almost alluded to this in his opening comments. keep in mind, lincoln wins in 18
64 two million votes. what intrigues me is not the number of votes, but how do you account for the almost two million votes against him? who are these people? [laughter] why? peace? the request for peace, the horrendous casualties on the battlefield, the abridgement of civil rights, including suspension of habeas corpus military trials of civilians for dissenting against the administration, like landingham. what is accounting for this large number of votes against the president? keeping in mind that lincoln and raymond and others thought other republicans and members of the national union party thought it was all over for lincoln in august.
this is '64. >> it's a pretty even split among voters for the whole history of the country, with did exception of elections like 1964 and 1980. >> and there's a war going on. right. >> if frank was around campaigning, it would have been not as close as it was. but keep in mind the hysteria that was -- i don't mean to be political but there was a great deal of hysteria in this country leading up to the elections that were experienced in november of 2014, about an unmanaged ebola crisis that to this date now that it's claimed a fourth american victim, has claimed four people out of 300 million americans. god bless the four people. may they rest in peace. it's four. and that's hysteria for a while. i don't know what the number is by the summer of 1864, 500,000
dead people. 200,000, 300,000 northerners. every home is touched by death or your neighbor is touched by death. i think that explains the opposition. they're angry at what's been accomplished by the summer and fall of 1864. >> i want to drill down on this a little bit, because it wasn't just democrats wo who opposed lincoln. for a long time, the republicans were thinking about nominating someone else. >> like freeman. >> he ran as a third candidate. i want to ask a question about the chase-lincoln contest. then i want to talk about august of 1864, when lincoln was really looking at defeat. after we get through those questions, i'd like people from the awed audience to ask questions so begin to formulate your question. i want to start with the chase-lincoln follow nation because we -- nomination, because we just heard a really good presentation about the marriage of chase, and the role
of the women in washington in 1863 and '64. that chase wedding was the week of the gettysburg address. and i teach the wedding and the gettysburg address as what i call the gettysburg announcement the roll-out of lincoln' election campaign between the lincoln attendance at the wedding and his trip up here to gettysburg, to help dedicate the cemetery, he puts himself in front of almost every important political figure in the north in a way that's really powerful in his race against chase for the nomination. i was curious to see how you guys react to that. is this the right way to teach the gettysburg address? is it political in nature and how much politics played a role here in november of '63? >> wow. [laughter] >> i mean, i know it's -- the resident lincoln expert on gettysburg has pretty convincingly advanced the theory that it can be considered the
opening thing in the reelection campaign. if you look at the democratic responses in the press, there are indications that they are concerned that the president is politicizing the sacrifices of the dead at gettysburg. it's a long time between sip and drink, between november 1863 and june 1864. lincoln is not declared. he's thinking about it. nobody is even sure he's thinking about it. so it's a fun way to teach it. i'm not sure -- >> you think he's not planning to run for reelection when he comes here to gettysburg in november of '63? you think he -- >> i think he'd like to be president for another four, five years, yeah. but i'm not sure he's plotting a campaign. he's got a war to manage and he thinks the rest will take care of itself. >> john, you don't agree with that, do you? [laughter] >> what kind of question is that? >> you don't agree with that? [laughter]
>> um, i don't know. i tend to think lincoln was thinking about he would be running again. but i don't know if there's anything in his hand.ed to put it back to michelle. we always punt to michelle because she, you know, has the papers at the library of congress. >> the lincolnening administration, you portray in your book, the lincoln you portray, is a very aggressive commanding figure. you think he is hesitating at this moment? >> honestly, i had never really thought about it. i always just presumed he would be running for a second term. so i guess in a way i -- >> but, of course, no president had been reelected since jackson. but i'm questioning your view of lincoln. harold suggests he was not even thinking about it. >> no, no. i didn't say that. i said he wasn't there yet. he wasn't running for reelection. i'm not 100% sure that he regards gettysburg as an opening thing in the campaign. i think that would have been
considered a pretty crude response. >> i'm not sure that's the right question, pat. matt. >> well, you're the one who made me the panel moderator. >> i know. exactly. but as lincoln said arguing one position in the morning one way and in the afternoon another way -- >> all right. >> -- we can change our minds. and i'm not sorry that you're the moderator, because you raise these thought-provoking questions. but i think the primary question or the primary vision of lincoln was to be the president as long as the war existed. and if he could do it before he had to move for '64, he would do it. and that was his i think primary objective. and by that time, certainly by 1963, freedom and emancipation was the dual issue with militarily prevailing in the war and ending the rebellion or the civil war. >> all right.
well, regardless of whether or not the address was political shortly after, the political machine begins to kick chase out of the race. he eventually drops out of the race in the spring. we call it a race, but it it wasn't really a race in the modern sense. then lincoln gets renominated in june on a union party platform, calling for the abolition of slavery. then in the summer of 1864, things start to fall apart. this is the pivotal moment in lincoln's presidency. it looks like he's going to lose reelection in the summer of '64. frank, can you paint that scene for us? i want to talk about this so-called blind memorandum in 196 3 when he write dms as in a memo that it looks like his administration will not be reelected. >> you're absolutely right. and i think there's a lot going on here. we sometimes think that 1862 is the toughest year of the war. but i think 1864 was even
tougher. you have a new general chief ulysses grant, who starts this optimistic spring or overland campaign with horrendous casualties. and the best they can do is get to the gates of petersburg. they even lost the small window they had of even capturing the small force in this rail center at petersburg. then it's reduced to a siege. lincoln has the secret meeting at hampton roads with grant. no record. no aids present. no record kept of the meeting. john simon and i think that lincoln chewed grant's butt out not for his aggressiveness but for the tremendous cost in lives and casualties. and you've got this political shenanigans going on with free mofnt,freemont, the third party. and one thing we haven't really
talked about were the efforts from the press, including greeley, and many in the northern public as well as politicians, for peace. for peace. almost at any price without emancipation, which would be backing off the party platform of not only emancipation but a 13th amendment that would make it permanent. i think all of this is playing out at the same time. and loifng is lincoln is under a tremendous amount of pressure from his own allies to remove emancipation from the table from the war, the war's goal, and just go forward militarily or in conference with southern peace commissioners that we see a little bit about in 1965. but we're talking preelection now. that was a major concern in the north.
>> not only did horace greeley, the leading republican editor of the day abandon abraham lincoln in a sense by, as frank says, by asking for everything to be dropped so that peace could be pursued with emancipation sacrificed, if necessary but on the day he writes the blind memorandum mr. lincoln, conceding the unlikelihood of his election, he gets a letter from henry raymond, who is not only the editor of the new york times, the leading -- the most loyal republican national newspaper in the country but also the chairman of the republican national committee saying i know you've dealt with greeley and isolated him and made him look foolish with his peace efforts, but as a matter of fact, i agree with him. you should sacrifice emancipation and sue for peace. you can't be reelected.
everyone here is saying so. >> and he calls the reelection an impossibility right? >> an impossibility. everyone says in illinois and indiana. i think that's exactly when lincoln writes the blind memorandum, when he gets the letter. >> john, here's the thing i need you to address. so it's the summer of '64. lincoln has called for 500,000 more troops. it's a preelection troop surge. in our equivalent, it would be like five million men. and yet he's also announced after greeley pursues these peace talks in canada, that the preconditions for any peace talks will be the restoration of the union and the abandonment of slavery. and the party platform calls for a constitutional amendment abolishing slavery. it's at that moment when so many people are wondering, maybe some of the soldiers, but lincoln doesn't waver right? it's the centerpiece
emancipation, of his campaign. how can you argue that they're voting on something else? >> am i the only one who thinks i'm getting the hardest questions? [laughter] >> these questions come out of love. yeah. >> thank you. >> love and respect for the provocative nature of your work. but you've ruined ten years of my teaching in the classroom. [laughter] so i need you to help me see through it. >> i think it's a great question. for the soldiers, one thing that is a common motif in soldiers' letters, there's two that i found have not really been noticed by scholars. >> the past. one is -- not noticed by soldiers in the past. one is that soldiers feel they don't have any candidate to vote for in the election. they don't want to vote for lincoln because he's an abolitionist, running on that property form. platform. but they don't want to vote for mcclellan. and then, you know, what the democrats have said, your war effort is a failure.
that becomes the official policy of the new president, if mcclellan dies in office. and i think that these soldiers saw themselves in a really difficult position in terms of deciding how to vote. and ultimately -- again, i look at that distinction between how they voted in the september and october elections, when they were fully capable of voting for lower-level candidates, and how they voted in november. these guys were not tied to the parties. they were not tied to the party platforms. ultimately, they had to decide i'm going to vote for commander in chief. i'm going to vote for the commander in chief who is going to see this war through and see through the reunion. i see union as the primary objective for the soldiers. and i also see -- you have to think about it this way too. maybe not so much what they're voting for but what they're voting against. when you look at that 78% statistic, i think that's a lot of soldiers who are voting against the democrats rather
than even for the republican platform. >> that is persuasive but i want to clarify -- >> thank you. >> that was -- so no. it is persuasive about the soldiers. but i want to clarify. you're not saying that's true of lincoln, are you? >> no. i don't think lincoln was ever -- you know, there are some scholars who look at his letter where he closes, you know, if davis is willing to negotiate with reunion but knock but nothing about slavery. lincoln drafted that, but never sent it. >> he gave it to raymond in person, i'm convinced of it, and shamed him. i think that was the purpose of that letter. when henry raymond visits the white house, after he writes the letter saying you can't win, he hands him the letter and says, as he said at other occasions around this time, i would rather give me life than abandon slavery. i'd be damned in time and
eternity if i abandoned slavery. that's why the letter was never sent. >> i think frederick douglas also discouraged him from using that letter. >> he showed that letter to douglas the week before in. >> but i think lincoln understood something that the democrats did not understand and that is that jefferson davis was not going to compromise. i think he thought if he put that letter out there, it would show davis for what it was. we're going to fight until the confederacy wins. i think lincoln used that or thought about using that as a way of showing that the democrats' plan would never work because of davis. >> that's not the only time, john. the niagara falls peace conference, which was -- he sends greeley and one of his secretaries -- he knew that they could never negotiate and that the team of confederates
residing in canada really had no authority anyway, from the confederate states of america. this is -- this goes to lincoln's astuteness as a politician except he was frustrated by all of these efforts, because he could -- he knew he could never come to terms with any confederate demands, which would mean a recognition, implied or explicitly, of another nation. >> well, wait. frank, it also means he wasn't going ting negotiate on the -- he wasn't going to negotiate on the abolition of slavery? >> correct. >> you agree he had reached that stage of august of '64 where that was no longer a negotiating point for him? >> or earlier. >> yes, but we will never know, because he is enigmatic. it's whether or not, for even half a second, he wavered on the position, like writing the letter and then changes, you know, let jefferson davis try me. then he's skirting or playing
with the issue of sending henry raymond to richmond and it doesn't happen. so all of this -- >> right. but tom, let me hear what you say about this. when lincoln writes that he wants to stand for saving the union -- he uses that phrase time and again during the war. he actually puts its in the blind memorandum, that secret note he drafted on august 23. for him, saving the union means abolishing slavery. do you disagree with that, or are these incompatible ideas? >> no. i don't disagree with that. i think he did mean abolishing slavery. what fascinates me about the mind memorandum, though -- slavery, of course, isn't mentioned -- he basically says i'm going to do all i can after the election and between the election and the inauguration of my successor to do everything that i can to help, to work with my successor to save the union. and you have written on this matt so you've written a nice
chapter and a book on this. really what he's proposing is a coalition government, which i find fascinating. he's willing to work with -- i think his fear was that support for the war in the north would have crumbled if he had lost the election. >> right. >> and he felt that, you know it called for a supereffort both by him and by mcclellan, to end to war. >> the subject of whether people understood that the goals were now interchangeable, we have the evidence of joseph madill, the editor of the chicago tribune he complained that after niagara falls, it was universally understood that old abe is now for saving the union and destroying slavery and that he's worried that that will mean the
destruction of abraham lincoln the candidate, for reelection. so he believes lincoln has taken an enormous political risk by making that manifest after nigra niagara falls. >> let me ask another question. the other fascinating thick about this blind memorandum, the secret note that lincoln writes on august 23, which begins this morning, as for some days past it seems exceedingly probable that this administration will not be reelected, is that he has his cabinet officers sign it without reading it, sign the back of it. then he puts it in a desk drawer and he makes that pledge in the document that tom described. and then it never sees the light of day. after he wins, he reads it to his cabinet. and they're shocked. they are trying to figure out what he intended by this thing. but i find this to be a really powerful challenge to the whole
team of rivals concept. so doris famously argued that lincoln forges a team out of his rivals during the war. but if they were such a team, in august of '64, why doesn't he trust them to see the contents of this explosive memo? so i wanted to put it to the panel. >> i'd like to foe from -- to know from frank whether he thinks it's legally binding. he taped it shut before he asked them to sign it. and then dramatically unglued it so they could read it, after he won. is it legally binding? >> it's not legally binding. >> is it morally binding? >> by the way, see michelle at the library of congress because they have the original blind memorandum and the envelope that lincoln sealed when he had -- >> michelle, you didn't bring it with you, did you? [laughter] >> it's a fantastic document, as matt has indicated because we're still wondering what the full meaning of this memo was and what kind of an impact it
would have if he had lost the election. >> but he doesn't trust his cabinet members to see the contents of this explosive memo. >> would you? >> well, if they were a team of my rivals, i would. >> there are some things you know better than i, and the panel, and the members of this audience know, there are some things that lincoln kept to himself, in decision making, and this may have been one of them. >> i think he is in such despair from being abandoned and trifled with by greeley. then to be told he has no chance, by his party chairman/editor of the times that he acts a little bitter rationally in those 48 --ing a little bit ir irrationally in those 48 hours. he says, quick, let's create an
army of people to let people of color know they're free and get as many of them freed. how can you do that? none of it is logical. douglas is impressed but it's loopy. >> did you call lincoln loopy and depressed? you've come a long ways, in public opinion. >> 48 hours of inexplicable bordering on irrational behavior. >> i have to ask it again. john, you don't agree with that, do you? >> no. i wonder if maybe he was afraid that not all the cabinet members would be willing to go along with that, and/or that it would lead to debate among the cabinet that he might see as debilitating in working with mcclellan toward the union. >> then matt is right. it's not a team. >> i'm glad you said it. >> what's surprising to me is that no one ever recorded anything about that meeting.
>> right. >> no diary. >> at the time that they produced the memo, and that they signed the back of it, there was no account of it from any of those -- >> chase and wells. >> all of the accounts come after the election. all right. let's open the floor up to questions. if you have a question, please come up to the microphone. so michelle is here first from the library of congress. >> since i kept getting invoked i felt like i should get up and say something. i was going to reiterate what you just said. it's so striking that none of the usual suspects, who usually record all of these things -- wells doesn't say anything. actually, and i made an error and said chase was there. and he wasn't. but none of the normal ones say lincoln had to do this loopy -- had us do this loopy thing today. i think hayes is out of town. but nick doesn't comment in any of these letters. he does write the days that raymond arrived and says, well,
you know, everybody seems to be running around like chicken littles and thinks that everything is going wrong. but if only, when they hear lincoln, they're going to be reassured. so, you know, some of the insiders sort of know this is going to be all right. and in november, when it gets opened up -- and actually, if you go online to the lincoln papers at the library of congress, you'll see it's actually the document itself that's been glued together. so hayes has to cut it carefully so he doesn't cut the text and signatures on the back. thank you, because the signatures are awesome. when he makes the comments about them opening it, because that's the really only time you hear the cabinet talking about it, first of all lincoln introduces it and says, you may remember back in the summer, when we had many enemies but very few friends, so that's part of his despair, that he sees he doesn't have a lot of friends. stewart makes a wonderful remark about, well, if it had been
mcclellan, he would have just he wouldn't have done anything about it anyway. a very striking manner -- memorandum. the interesting way people actually comment on it. >> ok, thanks, michele. to add to it, my very is signers are not alleging was lincoln but date stamping. >> i am wondering, this is a question for the entire panel could the election of 1864 be about loyalty? could the soldiers who are court-martialed and chastise for posing president legal, where they were badmouthing the commander-in-chief? badmouthing a boss that you have , was it about loyalty?
>> that is a great question. one thing would've not addressed is that the republican party change his name to the union party. what some scholars believe is that lincoln learned from the elections of 1862 that he didn't want his policy to be connected to partisanship. by changing the name to the union party, the party itself is attaching his ideas to something broader. you are either voting for the union or against it. if you look at the republican campaign literature from 1864, it is full of language accusing the opponents of being disloyal. that is also why a lot of soldiers again a are voting against the copperhead. >> this is really -- this has really been on my mind very talked about 1864 and the soldiers' vote.
the frame of election 1864, were those soldiers court-martialed the reprimanded prior for saying the same things? >> there's a couple of different ways to rid the first big wave in january of 1863 and goes into the spring and summer a bit for the second wave as some of the guys get arrested before the election and court-martialed after. i found one man he was court-martialed for desertion. nothing about politics in the court-martial. the decision of the court was delayed and he actually wrote a letter to lincoln asking for the decision to be released so he couldn't know what his fate was going to be. he said to lincoln he think he was being held in prison so little mac would lose the vote. there is no doubt that some of these guys were probably held because they were known to be democrats and the decisions of
the trials were after the elections. >> not just soldiers but keep in mind during the war, the release 4500 civilians tried by military tribunals for no more than disloyalty or alleged disloyalty were speaking out against the administration. >> thanks. one book that has not been mentioned yet is larry nelson's which talks about confederate policy for influencing the united states presidential election of 1864. i think it really explains, some of the lincoln critics point out the lincoln administration station a lot of troops around various polling places in various cities. i think that book really explains why it happened. and i think the panelists can probably explain it a lot -- a
lot better. can you comment on the stationing of troops into those cities? >> they certainly didn't in new york city to preserving on his vote. 65%-60 6% of voters voted for mcclellan. i do not know -- >> the question implies that he did have enemies and there were traitors to affect the election. you agree with that, don't you? >> terrorists who took 20 buildings and an attempt to create the kind of mayhem that sherman is creating in georgia. yeah, there is fear, there is tension. but i think, look at the result of the large presence of jews in new york city. it doesn't change the political outcome. -- large presence of troops in
new york city. >> i do not think many americans know during the civil war the provost marshal in every northern state and every districts of states. to protect the draft and to ensure that you show up, but also there to check on your loyalty. many civilians were held accountable for the criticisms. >> i was wondering how you measure and quantify that, which is 2/3 republican in the presence of troops who put it there a year before doesn't stop -- >> i do not think you can quantify. >> you wanted to follow-up? >> federal agents infiltrated a number of secret societies and groups who were planning to disrupt the administration is certainly affects morale in the north. there was evidence there that
there were things of foot. >> all right. we have a student question. please tell us your name and what your you are in school. >> i am seventh grade in st. louis, missouri. i was wondering if you can speak about the forming of the new party, whose idea it was in the calculus behind it. >> good question. why don't you come up here? [laughter] [applause] >> by the way, i gave fletcher, his one or two students scholars for the lincoln forum this year. [applause] >> i do not know whose idea it was but scholars differ about what the intention was. some scholars, james g rendell he said it was propaganda and the party never change and was purely nominal.
other scholars disagree. some think it a way to broaden the republican party and appeal to democrats. there's a provocative argument by a man named michael holt and his argument if it was lincoln's idea that link and view the republican party as a sectional party. but he wanted to be a national part. hol arguest that lincoln wanted to get rid of the radical wing of his rdf bring in southerners and make this party national. i do not find it entirely persuasive that i think there's something to it. i think about lincoln's cooper union address where he talks about we are a sectional part of a cousin view southerners will not come down and call us reptiles. lincoln really had a sincere desire to really have a broader appeal whether through
broadening the party base or destroy the republican party, i would lean toward driving. -- broadening. >> it is interesting, it is not forgotten because all of raymond's letterhead once the convention is one -- owwants the convention and i do not know who originated the idea. [laughter] >> the first thing he has not noted in 3.5 days for >> let's take one more question. we have a teacher question. why don't you tell everybody where you teach. >> i teach in arlington, virginia. i was intrigued by -- first amendment is such an earlier than it was not an appreciation for the first amendment.
we know lincoln was a student of history and as a student of history as somebody interested in how other people perceive, did he ever had anything to say about the alien and sedition act or it was a completely different world than what john adams was philip? does it make sense? >> it makes sense and was a good question. clinton was conflicted as he was on many issues involving civil liberties. -- lincoln was conflicted at he was on many issues involving civil liberties. he is leading the fight to get troops to washington as a standing along the rail lines from philadelphia to washington. i think he was still concerned about the first amendment even though the strength didn't take place until the 20th century. and the chicago time suppression which was by general ambrose
burnside, i am happy to say a rhode islander. lincoln ordered stanton to remove the suspension against the chicago times. and harold's book is full of these changes or lincoln correcting what is important -- what his subordinates had done and those sentenced imprisonment for the duration of the war. lincoln was sorry it happened based on this general law that burnside had promulgated, so he could use the sentence, the banishment of the confederacy to get away from the north. although valanigham goes to windsor so he can continue his campaign for governor. >> remember about lincoln changing his mind. he presented the order, closing
the chicago times for a few months later he said i am not sure i did the right thing. [applause] >> a great question about the sedition act. i do not know that lincoln ever mention whether the democrats sure did. and one of their publications that referred to as part of the principles of 1798 and they were pointing to jefferson and madison's critique. i found a letter a few years ago where johnson writes about the sedition act as thought it had been discredited. friend mentioned world war i. however homes, -- oliver holmes ends up writing and points to the sedition act and says that's not the intention of the first amendment to be able to stifle free speech like this. even as -- even as lincoln was not thinking about, people of that era were they brought it to
light. >> i know we did not cover half of the topics but a fascinating panel and we told them. [applause] -- we owe them. >> the civil war iteris your every saturday at 6:00 and 10:00 eastern time. to watch more our programming any time, visit our website www.c-span.org/history. you are watching american history tv on c-span 3. >> american history tv visited the macarthur memorial in virginia which was hosting antennial. holger herwig author of a book, explains how the battle prevented a quick german victory. and he discusses march tenacity